UK’s first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced

From BBC News:

The first UK prosecutions over female genital mutilation have been announced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Dr Dhanoun Dharmasena, 31, of Ilford, Essex, will be prosecuted for an alleged offence while working at the Whittington Hospital in London.

Hasan Mohamed, 40, of Holloway, north London, faces a charge of intentionally encouraging female genital mutilation.

Dr Dharmasena and Mr Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April.

‘Sufficient evidence’

In a statement, director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS was asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider evidence in relation to an allegation of female genital mutilation (FGM).

It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital repaired female genital mutilation that had previously been performed on the woman, allegedly carrying out female genital mutilation himself.

Ms Saunders said: “Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanoun Dharmasena for an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“I have also determined that Hasan Mohamed should face one charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of FGM, contrary to section 44(1) of the Serious Crime Act (2007), and a second charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dr Dharmasena to commit an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“These decisions were taken in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors.”

Misunderstanding

The CPS has decided to take no further action in one other new case and in three cases that were under review having been considered previously.

In the new case it was alleged that two parents had arranged for their daughter to undergo female genital mutilation while abroad.

In one of the other cases a suspect contacted an FGM helpline to request the procedure for his two daughters after misunderstanding the purpose of the service for victims.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced a 1985 Act, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, raising the maximum penalty from five to 14 years in prison.

It also made it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad even in countries where it is legal.

The CPS is currently considering four cases of alleged FGM, one of which is a case that is being reviewed.

Prosecutors have also had discussions with police over investigations into two further cases, which are currently at an early stage.

‘Unforgivable’

The UK has in the past been compared unfavourably to other countries over the issue, such as France where there have been more than 100 successful prosecutions.

MPs have said it is “unforgivable” that there have been no UK prosecutions since laws against FGM were introduced nearly 30 years ago.

This was despite more than 140 referrals to police in the past four years.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is writing to every school in England to ask them to help protect girls from FGM.

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